We can all agree that we want to live a longer and healthier life, and it really isn’t that hard to do. Eating right, staying active, and incorporating self-care into our daily routines are easy and effective ways to be our best selves. However, sometimes it’s good to get a reminder of other changes we can make to improve our lives and longevity. Here are four simple tips to help you lead a longer and healthier lifestyle.
I recently found this book on eating healthier and realized that my eating habits were awful. As a result, I’m trying to eat more “real food.” The motto is if you can’t plant, pick, pluck, or kill it, then don’t eat it. The biggest no-no is eating anything that comes in a package or pre-made. I can say that after I’ve started eating healthier and more ‘real’ that my cravings for junk food have diminished greatly.
Now, if I want something sweet, I reach for fruit rather than cookies. If I want chocolate, I reach for cocoa rather than milk chocolate. If cocoa is too bitter for you, eat regular dark chocolate. I have also given up sweet tea (that is so hard for a southern girl!) and soft drinks. I replaced those drinks with water, and now I find myself craving water. If you haven’t already made the switch, try eating only “real foods.” It might be hard when you first begin but stick with it. It is worth it!
Spending time with people you love is fun, but it also has a significant impact on your health and longevity. Interactions with others keep us stimulated, help us feel loved, and fight off depression. All these lend to being healthier and add years to our lives. Brigham Young University conducted a study and found that socially active people live 50% longer than those who are isolated. That’s a significant result! So be social! Mingle and spend time with loved ones, whether it is family or friends.
After the isolation we all felt during two years of staying home and staying safe, this isn’t news to anybody. We all found out how important socializing and being around others can be for our mental health. I think that by the time we were able to get out and about again, even the most introverted people felt the pull to be around others. Perhaps moving forward, we won’t take the opportunity to be with friends and family for granted.
Did you know that only 1 out of 4 individuals gets the right amount of sleep? Yikes! That is not a good ratio. The ideal number of hours is 8, but this may not be how much your body requires. It is important to figure out that magical number to keep you alert and productive. Missing sleep messes up more than just your mood. It can have negative effects on your heart, blood sugar, digestion, and mental capacity.
I recently found out just how much lack of sleep can impact your body. This past May, I experienced a hormonally-induced migraine. It was so severe that I had side effects that mimicked a stroke. My doctor immediately sent me to the ER. There, a CAT scan was done but proved to be inconclusive. A week later, I still had numbness in my left arm and both feet, so I was sent for an MRI. Again it was inconclusive.
My doctor finally sent me to a neurologist who ruled out a stroke but wanted to explore my sleeping patterns. I admitted that I hadn’t slept through the night in almost two years. The neurologist felt that my body was reacting by holding onto the migraine due to lack of sleep. He thought that if I had a better sleeping pattern, the migraine would go away, and the numbness would follow. He prescribed a sleeping pill which I reluctantly began taking. Within a month, I was sleeping through the night, and the migraine and numbness disappeared. If you are experiencing a loss of sleep, do not convince yourself that it’s a part of getting older. Talk to your doctor about ways to get better sleep. I promise it makes a world of difference!
Have you ever heard of ecotherapy? I certainly hadn’t until a couple of weeks ago. For those of you who do not know what ecotherapy is, it’s a fancy word for going outside. The formal definition is “a type of therapeutic treatment that involves doing outdoor activities in nature.” One of the most important results of going outside is getting vitamin D. The right amount of vitamin D can help improve bone health, blood pressure, and mild depression.
Getting outdoors helps us relax and allows us to breathe more deeply. This allows for more oxygen intake, which can help us feel more present. Color and sounds also play a part because the various colors and sounds of nature stimulate our brain, which improves brain function. Go out and explore!
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